Here’s an appropriate quote from the book by it’s author. “This book is not about how horrible the Hamptons have become, not about Hollywood east, hip-hop invaders or Ira Rennert’s mega-mansion in Sagaponack. It’s about a whole other, largely unreported, but quite glamorous life on the East End of Long Island, which centers on work instead of play, and which has produced some of the most important art of our time. The fact is, more than a century after the great painter Thomas Moran built a gabled house and studio on Main Street in East Hampton and became the first artist to make the Hamptons his permanent summer home, and more than fifty years after Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner left Greenwich Village for an unheated farmhouse in the backwoods hamlet called Springs, America’s leading artists are still spending their summers and increasingly their winter too in the Hamptons.” Bob Colacello. Bob mentions the East End and views it a little like I do. It’s not just the Hamptons. This place has a rich artistic and cultural history that the Hamptons doesn’t have.
The book does in a way focus on the glamorous. On the cover there’s Andy Warhol’s summer home Eothen, perched on the bluffs in Montauk. Not exactly the ‘Factory’ work setting. The photographs are beautiful and artists are cast into the limelight. However, the work side of being an artist is a mostly solitary job. The book only hints at what this place has evolved into for those like myself. And it’s not always as it seems, there are many very good artists from this area not mentioned in the book. Most of the artists in the book are bright stars in the art universe. I’m not sure why I was included, it must have been my studio, but I appreciate the fact that I’m considered in this peer group. I’m also not sure why I was on the cover of Long Island Newsday but why not, look at that handsome guy or that I made the A-List in Avenue On The Beach. When I saw this I jokingly said to Mac Hoak of Mecox Gardens, “Is there another Terry Elkins living out here we don’t know about?”. Kidding and bragging aside I’ve known many of the others on this List for as long as I’ve lived here, some as close friends, some going back to early years in Texas.
By the way, I don’t actually consider myself an art world “heavyweight”. Some days I don’t even consider myself an artist, more like an illustrator. Artists today seem to be pushing the envelope, doing things that I wouldn’t think of or attempt to try. I’m not a biennial artist. I wouldn’t say my work is that sophisticated, certainly by today’s standards. I basically draw and paint from nature, employ the subject matter I find around me and only occasionally think outside the box. How chic can a landscape painting be? One piece doesn’t fill up the gallery, pile up and spill all over the floor, spread across the ceiling and hang down in your face. In today’s art market there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors, or the Emperor’s New Clothes as I like to say. Although I find some of it entertaining. I do enjoy and greatly admire the work of friend and artists like Donald Lipski. Also my paintings haven’t yet sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars like my a few of my peers but unlike Van Gogh I make a good living and I’m still working. I may not be as coveted as my friends on the auction block or in my next museum show but my work sells well, I’ve always got a commission to finish or start on. My print business does surprisingly well also and it reaches an incredibly large audience. However, I feel very much a part of the East End picture. It’s evolved and grown since I arrived and there’s a lot going on in this small but thriving community. There are more openings and shows that one can see on any given weekend during the summer and plenty to do in the winter as well. Thirty years ago when I moved out here it wasn’t this way. Things only happened in the summer. My first winter you wouldn’t see a car parked on the main street at night in Amagansett. You’d find a half dozen people on any given night of the week at the Talkhouse. Double that on a weekend unless a band was playing. How times have changed!
Trust me though, I’m not as glamorous as the A-List would lead one to believe. At one time I thought so. I could go up in the VIP elevator to Saturday Night Live, rub elbows with Cher and sit backstage because I knew someone. Those were the days. I’m not making any fashion statements today. My wife corrects my choice of clothes and reminds me to comb my hair before I step out the door. I tend to shy from the scene as much as I can but once I’m out I enjoy it and seeing some of the many friends I have here. I also don’t like driving anywhere unless I have to. Driving to Amagansett for an opening, back to Southampton for another one and then home can be a challenge, especially on a summer weekend and who wants to drive 40-50 miles in heavy traffic on a two lane road at night. I’ve seen too many accidents as a volunteer EMT. How many art world heavy weights are EMTs or volunteer firemen? I’d rather give back to my community and stay at home, have dinner with family and friends. Maybe I’m getting old, HA! Unlike a lot of artist friends I haven’t had a one person show in New York City in decades. Maybe that will change one day. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lamenting the fact that I feel this way. It’s always nice to show up for a friend’s opening or be included in a group show. But I do feel the same as probably every other artist that is successful, it takes a lot of hard work and long hours to create something out of nothing. You need to spend a lot of time alone to get anything done. There have been plenty of evenings in the summer when my friends were getting together and having dinner and I was painting outside until almost 9 o’clock and then I was too tired to go out afterwards. The sun rises early here in the summer and I’m usually up before 6am. I inherited a good work ethic from my father. Those first few years I lived here I worked odd jobs to make ends meet and painted at night. So did a lot of other artists I know. Hard work does pay off. The harder one works the luckier you get. I’m happy to be part of where I live and I thank my lucky stars everyday. I can stop what I’m working on and in five minutes be throwing the ball with my dog on the beach. That’s what I call ‘living the dream’.